How to Shift Left: Your Six-Step Framework

How to Shift Left: Your Six-Step Framework

Shorten the service lifecycle, improve customer relationships, and reduce service costs. Here’s your six-step framework to shift your customer experience left.

The concept of Shifting Left sounds great but how can you, as a service leader, put this concept into reality? Is there a way to solve a greater percentage of field events remotely? Can more remote interactions be resolved through self-service? Is it possible to prevent problems before they even occur? 

It all starts by partnering with an AI engine that gives you meaningful and accurate insight into your customers and workforce. We broke it down for you in six easy steps. 

  1. Collect data – Gather service data and understand how data flows through the customer journey. Understand how many self-service interactions, remote/call center interactions, and field interactions your team services on a regular basis. This will help set a baseline for identifying the opportunity areas in your business. 
    • Tip: Normalize data sanitation. Ensure that “clean” data can be easily accessed and analyzed to inform more accurate decision-making. You can do this by setting standards and best practices around your data entry process. 
  2. Understand the service issue – The critical component to shifting left is to get deeper into understanding the types of problems that are being faced in all facets of the service lifecycle.  An example of this would be to understand what percent of service issues reported are related to a pump leaking issue. 
    • Tip: This is where Service Intelligence can help you. Service Intelligence can gather and clean your structured service data (historical data like machine logs, field work orders, customer support tickets, parts, and technician notes) and unstructured data (tribal knowledge from your top-performing workers) and distill data into symptoms and solutions. 
  3. Extract critical insights from your subject matter experts – Unlike AI applications in other areas of the business, service is unique in that just because something occurs the most frequently in the data, that doesn’t mean it’s the best result.  More often than not, the best way to solve a problem is stored in the minds of your best experts. In fact, according to Aquant’s internal data, about 30% of the solutions leveraged by Aquant customers are not identified in historical service data, they are obtained from the data provided by experts. This emphasizes how critical incorporating the human element into your AI engine is. 
    • Tip: Don’t rely on historical data alone. Use the knowledge of your best employees to help identity which issues and solutions can be resolved remotely or via self-service.
  4. Conduct analysis to identify the areas of opportunity – Every business is different, and identifying the area of highest impact whether it’s in the field, remote, or self-service is important to figure out where to focus first.
    • Tip: It’s common for organizations to look at metrics in silos, but looking at all of your metrics side-by-side can give you the best view into your workforce’s performance.
  5. Attack the opportunity by operationalizing AI in your business – Leverage data-driven insights from the analysis to use different tools like AI triage and troubleshooting applications and predictive and performance analytics to begin affecting change in the organization.
    • Tip: Enable teams and optimize user performance by training users and sharing best practices on ways to take full advantage of the tool.  Empowering your team to get the maximum benefit from the tool is the most important part of onboarding any new technology.
  6. Create a clear feedback loop to continuously improve – Ensure that you are able to measure the service interactions moving forward to clearly determine whether a positive impact is being made in the metric you are focusing on (ie. first-time-fix, resolution cost, etc)
    • Tip: Create a detailed plan using this newly uncovered data to start making strategic decisions. Once you have critical information about every aspect of your service organization, you can make data-based decisions that bridge the skills gap, improve customer experiences, and drive growth across your organization.


Time’s up. Why You Need to Shift Left Now

The ability to accurately solve service issues quickly while using fewer resources is critical if organizations are to stay competitive. Only those who are able to navigate a rapidly-evolving service landscape, which includes changes to customer demands, workforce shortages, and economic factors, will survive. 

Customer expectations are rising significantly. Not only do customers demand a more immediate response, they expect the opportunity to self-serve and fix simple issues themselves without having to escalate an issue. According to the Salesforce State of Service report, 48% of customers have switched brands for better customer service, and 94% say good customer service makes them more likely to make another purchase. Organizations that understand this and take the initiative to respond accordingly will lead the market. 

The talent shortage and widening skills gap is further exacerbating service issues. More-tenured technicians are retiring faster than their replacements can enter the workforce—so the challenge is to upskill less-experienced workers quickly. On average, bottom performers cost organizations 67% more than top performers. In addition, the variance between top- and bottom-ranking companies has increased. The bottom line? Companies need to pay attention to the skills gap more than ever. If everyone had the knowledge and skills to perform like the top 20% of the workforce, service costs would be reduced by 21%. Teams that look at the bigger picture and approach service cases more strategically can address these issues.

The engagement crisis is just as bad. Data from the Service Council’s Voice of the Field Service Engineer survey reveals that 65% of Gen Z, 67% of Gen Y, and 54% of Gen X are either not sure they’re going to be or won’t be field engineers for the duration of their career, 40% of which are leaving the role within the next three years. Simply put, most teams won’t have enough resources to resolve a case via dispatch, therefore phone resolutions or self-service may be an organization’s only option. 

Lastly, economic uncertainty and rising costs are affecting every part of service. Successful teams know that these external factors are out of their control but they’re adjusting their operations and investing in the right technology to combat these issues. The very best organizations are taking it one step further by addressing the pressures to prioritize ESG initiatives. They understand that customers care about corporate social responsibility. Not only are they shifting left to avoid a costly dispatch, but they’re shifting left to reduce carbon emissions resulting from a truck roll. 

Are you ready to shift left? Request a demo today